By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – George Springer’s two-run home run in the 11th inning gave the Astros a wild 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday to send the World Series to Houston tied a 1-1.
The Astros offense, which has been virtually non-existent on the road this postseason, came to life in extra innings when Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hit back-to-back solo home runs to lead off the 10th, putting the Astros up 5-3.
The Dodgers responded in the bottom half of the inning when slugger Yasiel Puig hit a solo blast and Kike Hernandez doubled in a run to tie the game at 5-5.
But Springer’s home run, one of eight hit during the game, proved to be the difference even after the Dodgers’ Charlie Culberson’s two-out solo shot in the 11th cut the Houston lead to 7-6.
Puig struck out on a 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the 11th to end the 4-hour and 19-minute contest.
“This is an instant classic and to be able to be part of it is pretty special,” Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander told a news conference.
“That’s why I love this team. There’s no quit. Top to bottom of the lineup. Anybody can win a game at any time.”
Springer, who rewarded Astros manager A.J. Hinch’s faith in him after going hitless in Game One, said the game was an emotional rollercoaster.
“That’s the craziest game that I’ve ever played in,” he told reporters. “And it’s only Game Two.”
For the second straight game the Fall Classic played out in unseasonably warm conditions in Los Angeles, with the mercury hitting 95 degree F (35C) at first pitch.
The 54,293 in attendance included golfers Tiger Woods and Fred Couples as well as former Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and a raft of movie and music stars.
The high-scoring game had started out as a pitchers duel, with Verlander’s no-hit bid broken up in the bottom of the fifth by a Joc Peterson blast to right field that tied the game at 1-1.
Verlander was punished again in the sixth when Corey Seager smashed a 97-mile-per hour fastball into the stands for a two-out, two-run home run, putting the Dodgers ahead 3-1.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts elected to bring hard-throwing closer Kenley Jansen in during the eighth inning in the hopes of a six-out save, but Houston had other ideas.
Carlos Correa’s single scored Alex Bregman and cut the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2. It was also the first run scored off the dominant Dodgers bullpen in 28 consecutive postseason innings.
Jansen gave up a solo home run to Marwin Gonzalez to start the ninth inning, which tied the game at 3-3 and gave the righty just his second blown save of the year.
The series shifts to Texas with the momentum now firmly with Houston for the next three games at Minute Maid Park. The Astros have yet to lose a game at home this postseason.
Yu Darvish will take the mound for the Dodgers while Lance McCullers will get the call for the Astros in Game Three.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Peter Rutherford/Amlan Chakraborty)